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8 Step Guide to Help Reduce the Risk of Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination is a complex and sensitive area of the law as set out in the Equality Act 2010 (EQA). It covers all areas of employment including job advertisements, the recruitment process, terms and conditions of work, conduct during employment and even at ‘work do’s’. The EQA also covers dismissals and work-related matters arising after employment has ended, for example giving references.

Employers usually bear the brunt of its employee’s discriminatory actions which can end up costing their business a fortune as a result of litigation. To make matters worse for employers, the amount of compensation that a claimant can receive if their claim is successful in the Employment Tribunal (ET) has no limit. For this reason it is far better to avoid giving rise to a claim than to manage a crisis after a claim has been made.

To reduce the risk of breaching discrimination law and to help employers stay out of the ET I have put together an eight step guide.

1. Provide staff with employment handbooks, including policies on equal opportunities and anti-bullying and harassment, clearly setting out what constitutes acceptable behaviour and what does not.

2. Provide training on equal opportunities and harassment. This will serve as a reminder that no one should be treated less favourably, harassed or victimised because of their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage & civil partnership, pregnancy & maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. Training will particularly help managers avoid asking inappropriate questions at interviews, or will help them recognise and deal with harassment at an early stage.

3. Set up clear procedures for staff to raise concerns and grievances, and for dealing with grievances. For assistance with dealing with grievances and conducting a grievance hearings please refer to our article on ‘How to conduct a grievance hearing: discrimination allegations’.  

4. Review employment contracts and policies to ensure they comply with the law.

5. Make reasonable adjustments where this will ease difficulties suffered by a disabled employee in the workplace. Under the EQA a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantially adverse and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. In the workplace such activities are taken to include things like using a telephone or computer, interacting with colleagues, following instructions, driving and carrying everyday objects.

6. Accommodate workers’ different cultures and religious beliefs, if possible. For example, requests for time off to pray or to celebrate religious holidays should be allowed unless a refusal is justified.

7. Seek to accommodate requests for family-friendly hours by employees with childcare or other family commitments, unless refusal is justified.

8. Undertake equal opportunities monitoring but do not use the forms as part of recruitment or other decision-making. Data from the forms should be aggregated and anonymised.

If you need any help and advice in relation to Commercial Disputes or Employment Law, please do not hesitate to contact me or the team on 01133 50 40 30 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and dispute resolution practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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